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Family Doctors, key in achieving Universal Health Coverage

As Nigeria joined other countries to mark the 2021 World Family Doctor’s Day, a Consultant Family Physician, Dr. Oludaisi Adeshina Oduniyi, a Geriatric Specialist at the Department of Family Medicine, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, said family doctors are key to the rapid actualisation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.
Oduniyi who disclosed this in Lagos on Saturday, said their role in quality care delivery coupled with their competence as prudent resource managers as well as their compassion in managing patients, distinguish them as better equipped medical professionals that could hasten the achievement of UHC.
He spoke during the occasion of 2021 World Family Doctor’s Day organised by the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON), which was held at the EKO Hospital in Lagos.
UHC means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
The World Family Doctor’s Day is commemorated globally on May 19. The day was however marked in Lagos on Saturday to highlight the role and contribution of family doctors and primary care teams in healthcare systems around the world.
The theme for the 2021 celebration is ‘Building The Future With Family Doctors’.
The World Family Doctor Day was first declared by the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) in 2010. SOFPON formed in 1998, is one of the member organisations of WONCA.
Speaking on the specific role of family physicians also known as GPs in advanced economic countries, Oduniyi said, “For us to achieve the UHC, we actually need family doctors. In some communities now, they may not even have cardiologists, for example.
“A particular state may not have up to two cardiologists but if people have heart challenges, a competent family physician should be able to manage common heart disease conditions even though the person is not a cardiologist. So, you can see that we are quite important.”
The Chairman, SOFPON, Lagos Zone, Dr. Blessing Chinyere Chukwukelu said abroad, more people patronise family doctors or GPs, but lamented that the same was not happening in Nigeria.
While Chukwukelu attributed a lot of ignorance and lack of enlightenment to why many Nigerians do not patronise family physicians in this environment, she stated, “On the contrary, many Nigerians should access care from family physicians.”
According to her, Nigerians who understand the benefits access care from family doctors, “but those who do not understand need to be enlightened, encouraged and made to know what they stand to gain from them.”
On his part, the President of SOFPON, Dr. Nnadozie Paul Obiegbu who is a consultant family physician said family doctors are distinguished by their resolute commitment to patients, healthcare provision and their communities. He however urged the professionals to engage in new efforts to expand the scope of practice.

 

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